February 20, 2022

Handley’s Nine Ks Boost Ohio State over North Carolina, 5-2

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LEESBURG, Fla. – The Ohio State softball team finished its five-game Florida weekend on a winning note Sunday, topping North Carolina 5-2 on the strength of a nine-strikeout performance from Lexie Handley and timely hitting in the late innings.

The Buckeyes picked up wins this weekend over Butler, South Alabama, Stetson and North Carolina to improve to 7-1 overall. Their only setback was a one-run decision on Saturday afternoon to Liberty.

Handley, who went 2-0 on the weekend with 27 strikeouts in 19.0 innings of action, allowed just five hits on the afternoon and no earned runs. She was backed up by an offense that contributions from six different players. The bottom of the lineup in particular came up big, as 7-8-9 hitters Kami Kortokrax, Kaitlyn Coffman and Kaitlyn Farley went a combined 6-for-8 with four RBI.

The key scoring plays for Ohio State occurred in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. After UNC tied the game with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fourth, the Buckeyes bounced right back and got a clutch two-out RBI from Farley, who hit an infield single and used her speed to race down the first base line.

In the fifth, Jaycee Ruberti led off the inning with a triple. Two batters later, Sam Hakenbracht’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Ruberti, who was safe at the plate due to obstruction by North Carolina cather Taylor Greene.

The Buckeyes tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Farley picked up her second RBI of the afternoon, a single to right field that scored Avery Clark, who doubled to open the inning.

Weekend Warriors
Handley led a pitching staff that allowed just 1.09 earned runs of 35.0 innings of action. She finished 2-0 with a 1.11 ERA and .159 opponent batting average against.

Allison Smith (1-1, 0.78 ERA, 13 Ks in nine innings) and Emily Ruck (1-0, 6.0 IP) also picked up wins.

At the plate, Avery Clark hit .400 with six hits and two doubles. Melina Wilkison also had six hits and also scored five runs. Meggie Otte drove in a team-high four runs, aided by her two-run home run vs. Stetson on Saturday night.

What’s Next
Ohio State heads to Columbia, S.C. next weekend for four games at the Gamecock Invitational. The Buckeyes face Virginia Tech at p.m. on Friday, South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Troy at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Miami (Ohio) to close out the weekend on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.